Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sleep in the City: Sweet Dreams for Kids

A non-profit organization in Detroit is educating at-risk children about sleep. It’s also giving them resources to make their sleep environment more comfortable.

Sweet Dreamzzz Inc. partnered with the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research to develop the R.E.M. (Rest. Educate. Motivate.) Sleep Program.

The interactive program involves hands-on activities, games and songs. Trained volunteers go into local schools to teach children about the benefits of healthy sleep habits and a bedtime routine.

The goal is to help the children get a good night’s sleep in preparation for classroom learning. But sleep can be a challenge for children in Detroit’s most impoverished communities. Many children in the city may not have a warm, comfortable place to sleep at night.

In April the Children’s Health Fund
reported that nearly half of Detroit children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level. Detroit’s poverty rate of 33.8 percent is the highest of any large U.S. city.

So Sweet Dreamzzz also provides the kids with a sleep kit. It contains a sleeping bag, nightshirt, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, stuffed animal and other bedtime items. So far the group has given a kit to more than 25,500 children.

Program director Josephine Long recently
told the Detroit Free Press that too many children get too little sleep. Ongoing sleep loss puts them at risk for both learning problems and health problems.

"We're not saying sleep is the answer, but it is the core," she said.

Earlier this year the Sleep Education Blog
reported that long-lasting sleep problems in children can affect their cognitive development. Living in a “fragile family” also can affect how children sleep.

Learn more about sleep and children.

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